Why I rate books with 5 stars

More or less three years ago, long before I started this blog, I decided to start rating books. For that purpose, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of both the books that I had read and what I thought about the books I was to read. I have recently realised that I haven’t considered many books to be five-stars reads. So, I started to muse on why that was and on what I expect from a “perfect” book, a concept that is not universal and that is connected with readers’ expectations.

First, I love books that get me completely immersed in the story and that I can’t stop thinking about. I recognise such books when I start reflecting on them while I’m not reading, but doing my chores or am at work. Such books get me emotionally attached, but in a way that isn’t cheesy. A five-star book, for me, is not one that tries too hard to make readers cry, but one that manages to get us attached to the characters and the plot, to the extent that we can almost feel that they are real.

I also expect the characters to be complex, not only either truly perfect or truly evil. People are made of many layers, which are a consequence of their own experiences and expectations. I expect fictional characters to reflect that. Even the most unlikeable of characters or the antagonists cannot be purely and totally malicious. I love it when the personalities of the characters are gradually revealed by their actions and when they face unexpected situations that put them to the test.

Another thing that I also really like is when books keep me on the edge of my seat. I enjoy being surprised by an interesting, intriguing and complex plot. A griping plot doesn’t have to be action-packed, but it needs to have a wow factor that either positively surprises or shocks the reader.

Last but not least, a book is a five-star read when it is sprinkled with such beautiful language that makes me wonder how an author can be such a genius when mixing words together in order to convey a story or idea. By this I don’t mean that my favourite books are overly descriptive. On the contrary, I prefer a book in which the plot is one of the main allures, but it should be complemented with moments of genius language-wise.

I am quite greedy in relation to what I expect from a five-star book. Finding a book that fits all the mentioned requirements is definitely not easy. So, I tend to mostly rate books with four stars instead of five, as the latter ones are books that I can’t fault.

What makes a book a five-star read for you? Tell me in the comments!


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